Life expectancy in the U.S. has had its biggest decline since the 1940s, according to new research published in the academic journal BMJ. From 2018 to 2020, the average decline in life expectancy observed in the study was 8.5 times greater than the average in 16 other developed nations.
Researchers found that white Americans lost 1.36 years, while people of color lost more than double the amount of years. Black Americans lost 3.25 years and Hispanic Americans lost 3.88 years.
The difference is “pretty catastrophic,” Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and lead author of the study, told Kaiser Health News.
Those two groups are also the groups disproportionately impacted by HIV.
“A longstanding and widening US health disadvantage, high death rates in 2020, and continued inequitable effects on racial and ethnic minority groups are likely the products of longstanding policy choices and systemic racism,” the authors of the study wrote.
Americans died in larger numbers and younger than peer countries.
A significant contribution to these numbers was the coronavirus. There were more than 500,000 unexpected deaths in the nation. And even more could be attributed to people not finding proper care during the pandemic.
Not only did the pandemic kill 600,000 people in the U.S., but the virus has also caused more than 3 million to carry on with lingering symptoms.
“Poverty causes a lot of cancer and chronic disease, and this pandemic has caused a lot more poverty,” Dr. Otis Brawley, a Johns Hopkins University professor, told Kaiser Health News. “The effect of this pandemic on chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, will be measured decades from now.”